Am Tour: Dyer, Reeves prevail in deep Hogan, Sarazen flights

By Brandon TuckerSeptember 19, 2014, 6:42 am

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- To get a sense of the magnitude of competition at the Senior National Championship, just look to the Hogan flight: 162 entrants all competing for one crystal trophy.

As expected, there were a lot of players in the hunt on the final day, but it was Ernie Dyer, from Orange, Tex. who stepped up with a steady round of 82 to win by two shots over Mike Knox.

At the beginning of the competition, knowing his flight was the deepest of the six, Dyer set his sights on finishing in the top 25. But after a third round 77 on the Talon course at Grayhawk Golf Club that he first began to think he had a real good shot at prevailing.

"My motto for the day was just to hit the next shot," said Dyer, 53, from Orange, Tex. outside Houston. "Let's click the holes off as soon as I could get 'em clicked off."

Dyer self taught himself the game when he was 25 and this is his first year on Am Tour. He qualified for nationals with a major victory at the San Antonio Open at La Cantera. has enjoyed his weekend games with his fellow golfers on the local Houston Am Tour.

"When we wake up each day, we hurt somewhere else," said Dyer. "We're not young anymore. This is something we can compete at. It's probably the only thing we can do. It's a competitive thing."

Dyer is sharing his victory with five other golfers from his home club in Orange, Sunset Grove Country Club.

"We're going to celebrate somewhere," he said. "And we're going to eat good."

Reeves runs away with Sarazen flight

The second largest field of the week was the Sarazen flight, where 153 golfers teed it up in round one.

While the Hogan flight came down to the wire, Chuck Reeves, from Snohomish, Wash., ran away with it, winning by seven shots. He shot a final round 82 on the Talon Course at Grayhawk Golf Club, capped with a back nine 39.

The Sarazen flight (handicaps 12-15.9) can often be prone to some blowup rounds, and the difference was Reeves' steadiness. Even when there were a few moments in the first two rounds at Talking Stick when it looked like the wheels might fall off (like a back nine 48 on day one), he was always able to rally with an ensuing solid nine.

"I was really immersed in the mental struggle to continue to focus and play well," said Reeves. "To come in and have practice rounds and four competitive rounds and some of the adversity, like the heat and the mosquitos and what not, it was really interesting to me."

This is Reeves' second stint in the game of golf. He played when he was younger, though baseball was his primary sport. Three years ago, he picked the game back up and jumped in with both feet: lessons, practice sessions. This year, he took the plunge back into competitive golf by joining Am Tour to see where he stood, and his victory today validated his commitment.

"I've never done anything at the national level where I've won," said Reeves. "So this is the pinnacle."

Now, as is custom on Am Tour, Reeves will be bumped up a flight to the Hogan (handicaps 8-11.9).

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.